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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

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were the keys, that the aspirations of the age found their most
adequate expression. There the desire for beauty and truth and
freedom, which had been largely repressed in the Middle Ages,
found a real satisfaction, pending the creation of new spiritual
media better adapted to modern needs.


The revival of learning which began with Petrarch in Italy
in the Fourteenth Century made its influence felt in the sphere
of education almost at once.   Round the scholars who possessed
manuscripts of the great classical works and had the knowledge
and insight required for their interpretation, gathered groups
of young Italians who had become conscious of themselves
as the heirs of the spiritual heritage of the Roman Empire ;  and
in this way the Latin classics, and at a later time the Greek,
became the common possession of educated men.    The old
universities like Bologna played little part in this movement.
The chief centres of enlightenment were certain cities and courts
where the chief men had a personal zeal for literary study or
sought reputation for themselves by encouraging it in others.
In this respect Florence, the city of the Medicis, stood pre-
eminent.   As early as 1348, when the passion for letters was
still rare, its citizens established a university for the promotion
of the new learning ;  and there in 1396 Chrysoloras from Con-
stantinople introduced the study of Greek, and brought a new
element into the humanism of Western Europe.    There again,
in the days of the versatile and accomplished Lorenzo de Medici,
in the latter half of the following century, arose the Platonic
Academy which brought together men of learning after the
manner of the famous Athenian schools, and aimed at the diffusion
of a Christian Platonism.   But though Florence took the lead,
there were other sects of literary culture, like Padua and Venice,
scarcely less considerable;   and Academies on the same lines
as that of Florence, though with somewhat different interests,
flourished in Rome and in Naples.   By such means the humanistic
cult spread rapidly over Italy, and made its way into the life
of the people in diverse forms, some of them  frankly  and
extravagantly pagan.